The Intersection Between a Work Comp Claim and Unemployment Benefits

Siesky & Viehe Law Firm represents employees who suffer on-the-job injuries.  However, for one reason or the other, an employer sometimes denies that the injury is work-related.  And if the employee is unable to work, the employer may decide to fire or lay off the employee.  In that case, the question arises – does the employee damage the Worker’s Compensation case if he or she files for unemployment benefits?

Before we answer that question, it is important to point out that Indiana employees with work-related injuries are entitled to Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments, consisting of two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, for any time in which the employee is unable to return to work “of the same kind or character.”  Yet, when an Indiana employee files for unemployment benefits, one of the things the employee certifies on the application is that he or she is “physically . . . able to work and . . . available for work.”

The Indiana Supreme Court, in Ballard v. Book Heating & Cooling, held that under the facts of that case, someone who receives unemployment benefits could not also recover TTD benefits for the same time period.  In spite of the clear difference between the two criteria, the reasoning was that if the employee certifies on the one hand (unemployment application) that he or she is able to work, then the employee cannot claim on the other hand (workers compensation case) that he or she is unable to work.

Therefore, under many circumstances, it may be difficult for you to recover TTD benefits through Worker’s Compensation if you are trying to get unemployment benefits at the same time.  Lane C. Siesky does not believe this is a hard and fast rule, however.  For instance, if you want to continue to work for your employer but your request is refused because of your injury, you may have no choice but to file for unemployment.  In such a circumstance, you may be entitled to recover TTD benefits notwithstanding your application for unemployment.

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, or if you’ve been laid off or fired because of a work-related injury, call Siesky & Viehe Law Firm, PC today for a free consultation.  Siesky & Viehe Law Firm, PC, is located in Evansville, Indiana.